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Asian stocks close higher on Wall Street's lead

          HONG KONG, March 24, 2006 (AFP) - Asian stocks closed higher Friday following a positive lead from Wall Street with trade also aided by domestic factors, dealers said.
However, investors remained cautious against a backdrop of potential higher interest rates in the United States and the Federal Reserve policy meeting to be held next week.
Wellington stood out by climbing 0.27 per cent for record finish as investors bought into exporters benefitting from a falling local dollar and ignored data showing the economy teetering close to a recession.
Tokyo notched up a solid rise with a weaker yen and improved Tokyo land prices providing an added lift. Kuala Lumpur gained after the government lifted a ban on short selling in the stock market while improved metal prices helped Sydney to another record close.
Bangkok made another modest gain ahead of further rallies calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra while Jakarta was bolstered by better than expected profits from automaker Astra International.
Mumbai also struck a record close as fears over government stability subsided.
TOKYO: Share prices closed 0.43 per cent higher, ending the week on an upbeat note as a weaker yen and news of a rise in Tokyo land prices last year helped boost sentiment.
The Nikkei-225 index added 71.50 points to 16,560.87 on turnover of 1.46 billion shares.
SEOUL: Share prices closed 0.68 per cent higher, reversing the previous session's mixed performance, as banks, POSCO and LG Philips LCD posted solid gains.
The KOSPI index closed up 8.97 points at its best level of 1,321.23. Volume was 359 million shares worth 3.1 trillion won (3.2 billion dollars).
HONG KONG: Share prices closed 0.35 per cent lower in cautious trade ahead of the US Federal Reserve policy meeting next week.
The Hang Seng Index lost 54.71 points at 15,716.46. Turnover was 27.28 billion Hong Kong dollars (3.5 billion US).
TAIPEI: Share prices closed 0.19 per cent higher, steadying after a week of heavy losses as investors rotated into non-tech industrial and financial stocks.
The weighted index added 12.02 points at 6,376.62 on turnover of 76.86 billion Taiwan dollars (2.35 billion US).
SHANGHAI: Share prices closed 0.59 per cent lower in a correction after gains over the last four trading days, with petrochemical firms and automakers losing ground.
The Shanghai A-share Index lost 8.11 points to 1,357.70 on turnover of 12.26 billion yuan (1.52 billion dollars) and the Shenzhen A-share Index was down 1.21 points or 0.37 per cent at 326.88 on turnover of 7.93 billion yuan.
The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B-shares, closed down 7.75 points or 0.60 per cent at 1,294.70 on turnover of 12.42 billion yuan.
SYDNEY: Share prices edged higher again to chalk up another record finish as investors added more mining stocks to their portfolios following an overnight rise in metal prices.
The SP/ASX 200 gained 4.8 points or 0.10 per cent to move further into 5,000-point territory at 5,040.1, its fourth record close of the week.
SINGAPORE: Share prices closed 0.23 per cent higher in dull trade, picking up on regional gains after losses on Wall Street overnight.
The Straits Times Index added 5.67 points to 2,497.31 on volume of 1.53 billion shares worth 1.04 billion Singapore dollars (642 million US).
KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices closed 0.11 per cent higher in rangebound trade after the government announced it is lifting its eight-year ban on stock short-selling.
The composite index added 0.98 points to 926.09. Volume was 782.82 million shares worth 911.36 million ringgit (246.55 million dollars).
BANGKOK: Share prices closed 0.15 per cent higher on gains in regional markets but investors were cautious as the country braced for another protest against embattled Premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The composite index rose 1.13 points to 730.85 on turnover of 2.3 billion shares worth 11.9 billion baht (305 million dollars) traded.
JAKARTA: Share prices closed 0.44 per cent higher led by blue-chip Astra International after the company reported a better-than-expected 2005 net profit.
The composite index rose 5.751 points at 1,311.374 on 1.17 billion shares worth 1.31 trillion rupiah (144.1 million dollars).
MANILA: Share prices closed 0.7 per cent higher, extending gains to fresh six-year highs led by support for index heavyweight, Philippine Long Distance Telephone.
The composite index rose 15.35 points at 2,208.13. Volume was 1.27 billion shares worth 1.77 billion pesos (34.7 million dollars).
WELLINGTON: Share prices rose 0.27 per cent for another record finish as investors bought into exporters benefitting from a falling local dollar and ignored data showing the economy teetering close to a recession.
The NZSX-50 gross index rose 9.56 points to 3,580.79 on turnover of 123.81 million New Zealand dollars (75.55 million US).
MUMBAI: Shares prices rose one per cent to a record close as fears over government stability eased and funds bought into mid-sized and index stocks, ahead of the financial year-end next week.
The 30-share Sensex index rose 109.71 points or 1.01 per cent to 10,950.30.


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